Title ~ Battle Stations (Alliances #2)
Author ~ Chris T. Kat
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 12th October 2015
Genre ~ Science Fiction M/M Romance
The fight to eradicate the Tash’Ba breeding stations continues, with spunky Commander Berit Turner and his Nadisc mate, Tom, in the thick of things. Sometimes it seems as though they’ll never locate and destroy them all. And there’s always the fear that the Tash’Ba have something else, something worse—if that’s even possible—lurking ahead.
As if things aren’t bad enough, Berit’s less than stellar past is threatening to bite him in the ass, and they’ve received alarming new information. The Tash’Ba queen needs to use Earth as a place to hatch the egg of her successor. And if what she says is true, the new queen will be even more voracious and cruel than her predecessor.
Berit, along with his team—Tom, Carson, Niyara, and Fleur—must do everything in their power to stop her. If they fail, Earth will be lost forever.
I’m a passionate believer that every single genre available to mainstream readers should also be represented in LGBTQQIA fiction. It’s a long slow process but every f/f western, or m/m spy caper is a step on the ladder. The rest of the letters are a little slower in appearing but there are authors out there scribing away to increase the diversity of what’s available. So I’m always excited to see something labelled as a crime drama or military adventure, or in this case science fiction.
Chris T Kat has invented an interesting and compelling world where a coalition of alien races and humans have combined forces to defeat the machinations of the Tash’Ba. The Tash’Ba are insectoid aliens with a social structure similar to wasps, who are determined to take over the Earth as a breeding ground for their next queen. In order to do this they have invaded earth type planets where they have set up breeding programmes for terrifying dinosaurian monsters. The intention is to transport these beasts to Earth to wipe out the human population before the new queen hatches.
Although Earth has achieved space flight it seems to have suffered some other type of catastrophe because it seems very short of military personal, hardware and expertise. The only way they and their Nadisc partners can eradicate the ‘dinosaurs’ is by boots on ground attacks with hand weapons to fight their way to the Tash’Ba bases to find the tiny, well-camouflaged, fail safe device all the bases have that is used to kill the beasts if they get out of hand. This makes for some gorey action scenes with very high death rates as the attackers are torn apart, trampled, dismembered or just plain eaten. That the monsters are learning the allies’ tactics and using them against them is another problem. There may be a traitor in the camp and that someone seems to be intent on killing the protagonist.
So far so good but that brings me to the protagonist and there I was left floundering for an explanation for his behaviour. Berit Turner is petulant, childish, wilfully reckless, tactless, egotistical and promoted way above his abilities – being one of his tragic red shirts is a virtual death sentence. He spends much of the book having his nuts pulled out of the fire by his patient mate Tom, and the rest of it being smart-mouthed at inopportune moments. I found this very confusing and since Berit is the narrator there’s no getting away from him. I asked a friend about it and she pointed out that the clue is the term ‘spunky’ in the blurb. Spunky heroes are forgiven everything on account of being so cute and pouty and funny and if I’m not getting the joke that’s my problem. Also I shouldn’t be reading it as sci fi because it’s a romance. Lesson learned. Once I’d got that idea implanted I did my best to suspend my disbelief still further, including some of the major laws of physics, and enjoy the world building.
The thing I found most interesting about the world was the complexity of the Nadsic race’s relationship customs. That Tom becomes Berit’s mate is not by choice but a biological imperative dictated by pheromones. It’s a variation on the ‘fated mates’ trope one finds in shifter stories. In Berit and Tom’s case that wasn’t a problem because they fancied the pants off each other, but there was a coercive element verging on non-con in other cases, including one male male pairing where one party was not only straight but also very recently bereaved. This was uncomfortable to read but since the emphasis was very firmly on Berit and Tom it was not an issue for most of the time. Even so Berit finds it very hard to play his part and causes Tom great distress by shrugging off Tom’s need to protect him, while simultaneously craving it. This was the source of much of the relationship conflict in the book.
To sum up – I think this is very probably a crowd pleaser if read as a romance by fans of the spunky type of hero but not so pleasing to people who cherish as large a kink for competence as I have.